Updated at 17.02
A SHOCKED SPORTING Clube de Portugal will play in Sunday’s Portuguese Cup final despite a horrific ordeal that saw a 50-strong gang of masked and hooded men brutally attack players and officials at training.
Wearing t-shirts bearing the club’s emblem the mob invaded Sporting’s training ground on Tuesday and went on the rampage, terrorising players and personnel and vandalising dressing rooms.
Dutch international Bas Dost, Sporting’s top scorer this season, required stitches to his neck. A photograph of his bloodied face appeared on social media.
“It was a distressing situation and we are all shocked,” the striker, with 27 league goals to his name this season, told Dutch news website Algemeen Dagblad.
“This is a drama for everyone, I am empty,” the 28-year-old added to Portuguese website Ojogo.
He had scored in Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Maritimo Funchal which left Sporting in third and missing out on Champions League football next season.
Argentina international Marcos Acuna and Croatia’s Josip Misic were also assaulted in the raid on Sporting’s Alcochete training base in the Lisbon suburbs.
The team met their player’s union on Wednesday to discuss how to react and whether to pull out of Sunday’s Cup final against Desportivo das Aves.
A team statement later confirmed that despite their frightening ordeal they would face Desportivo in four days time.
“We are not in a physical or psychological condition to resume normal training immediately,” the players said.
“But because the Cup final is a celebration of Portuguese football, and also out of respect to our club, we will play in the final.”
The horrific incident left Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa “worried by the image this projects of Portugal to the world”.
He added: “I’m concerned as Portugal is a power in professional football, and I’m worried about the seriousness of what’s happened.”
Portuguese police have made 21 arrests, according to the government.
Several hundred Sporting fans made their way to the team’s Alvalde stadium on Tuesday night to lend their support to their stricken team’s players and management.Source: Fora de Jogo/YouTube
Supporters group ‘Juventude Leonina’ condemned the attack on social media.
“The Juventude Leonina numbers more than 7,000 fans. It deeply regrets what happened and disassociates itself from these events.”
Sporting issued a statement of their own, decried what it termed “acts of vandalism and the attacks on (our) athletes, coaches and professional staff.”
The Portuguese Primeira Liga said: “The perpetrators of these incidents are not fans of football, they are criminals.”
Tuesday’s drama follows last month’s war of words between players and the club’s president who had threatened to suspend almost all of the “spoilt brats” in the first team.
Bruno de Carvalho launched a rant on social media following Sporting’s 2-0 Europa League quarter-final first leg loss to Atletico Madrid.